Dream Vision | Art for Proper 25

Joel 2:28-29 Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

Dream Vision
DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Dream Vision
1525
Watercolour on paper, 30 x 43 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Click image for more information.

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Dream Vision, Watercolor, 1525, Albrecht Durer, 1471-1528

Dreams are not part of our physical world and often their images have no reference to anything we remember having seen or experienced. When a dream is vivid we tend to remember it and wonder if it had meaning. Yet, we tend to be skeptical of those who interpret dreams in other than general terms. It seems reasonable, however, that there are times when the content of a dream (e.g. recurring dreams) may be related to events in a life; especially if an event weighs heavily on a person’s mind. Those who look for meaning believe a great deluge and flood, as in the dream experienced by Albrecht Durer, is related to unexpressed fears and emotional turmoil. Whether or not Durer’s dream was rooted in fear is not known but there was a great deal of turmoil in Germany during the later part of his life.

Durer’s dream came at a time when he was much immersed in the work and teachings of Martin Luther. In 1525, Durer’s native, Nuremburg, became a Protestant city and this resulted in great anger from the Roman Church. Durer’s frightening dream took place that very same year. Upon awakening, he recalled the dream in writing and recorded it in a watercolor study called “Dream Vision.” His written account tells of an intense experience that left him trembling. Three years later, Durer died and Martin Luther wrote:

It is natural and right to weep for so excellent a man – still you should rather think him blessed, as one whom Christ has taken in the fullness of his wisdom and by a happy death from these most troublesome times, and perhaps from times even more troublesome which are to come, lest one who was worthy to look on nothing but excellence, should be forced to behold things most vile.

Dreams come in a variety of forms and, unlike the one experienced by Durer, many are pleasant. Often the term “dream” itself is used with positive associations and as a metaphor for a conscious desire; we may wish for a “dream” job, vacation, or home. On a conscious level, dreams also are visualizations of possibilities. Airplanes became a reality because humans observed birds and dreamed of flying. Because we dreamed, men walked on the moon.

The Book of Joel cites blessings that were to be bestowed on Israel. In addition to material blessings, God promised a special gift – the gift of the spirit, of dreams and visions; “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28). Revelation, enlightenment, and wondrous achievements have been the result of this gift.

Hovak Najarian © 2013

Christ Taking Leave of His Mother | Art for B Proper 5

Mark 3:33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”

Christ Taking Leave of His Mother
DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg) Life of the Virgin: 16. Christ Taking Leave of his Mother
c. 1505
Woodcut
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna

Click image for more information.

Commentary by Hovak Najarian
(Post from June 10, 2012)

During the Renaissance, the German artist Albrecht Durer was the most acclaimed printmaker of Northern Europe and his well deserved reputation can be seen in two notable series of woodcuts. Both of them include the theme of Christ saying farewell to his mother before leaving for the events awaiting him during the Passion. The first series called Life of the Virgin was started in 1501 but not completed until after he returned from an extended visit to Italy. A second series called The Small Passion was started after his return to Germany.

In his woodcuts, Durer deals with a wide range of emotional moments; sometimes there are elements of joy, as in Christ Entry into Jerusalem, yet often there are sorrowful events such as the Crucifixion. Durer used Biblical accounts usually for the subject of his woodcuts but many activities in the life of Christ, as well as in his family and disciples, were not recorded in the scriptures. When direct accounts are not available, artists, novelists, and dramatists often turn to their imagination or go to other sources as they try to depict how events might have occurred.

During the thirteenth and early fourteenth century there was much devotional material written but the exact authorship was not always known. Many works that were at one time attributed incorrectly to St. Bonaventura now are called generally, Pseudo-Bonaventura. Durer’s source for Christ Taking Leave of His Mother is from one of the most popular of these works; “Meditations on the Life of Christ.” The thought of Christ’s farewell is emotionally heart wrenching, especially in view of the fate awaiting him in the days that were to come. This subject received much attention from artists in Northern Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and numerous variations of this theme were painted.

In Christ Taking Leave of His Mother (from the Life of the Virgin), Durer lays out the composition in three divisions. Mary is on the left side seated on the edge of a covered porch; her dress is crumpled, her face shows sorrow, and her hands are clasped below her chin. Two women, also with sorrowful expressions, are standing behind her and are part of this group. Christ, near center and a few feet away to the right of them, raises his hand to bless his mother. Two strong vertical elements, the post of the porch and a dead tree suggesting gloom, serve to frame him and at the same time they tend to visually separate him from his mother and the two women. As our attention moves to the right beyond the figure of Jesus we see a third division; open space and a road that will lead Christ to the world beyond. On the road at mid-distance are the disciples waiting for Jesus to join them. In the background, looming over this sorrowful farewell – and possibly intending to suggest the presence and weight of the physical world – is a huge fortress-like cluster of buildings that is based probably on buildings in Nuremberg during Durer’s time.

This woodcut is not quite nine by twelve inches in size; about the size of a standard sheet of notebook paper. Yet Durer filled it with an incredible amount of detail. He presents the primary action in the foreground and then takes us back convincingly into an illusion of very deep space. Durer was a master of black and white values and he skillfully created “gray” tones; even though there are no actual gray tones in this print. The entire surface of the woodblock is of a “yes-no” nature. That is, the surface of the block is either all cut away (to give the white areas) or left uncut (for the dark lines). The various degrees of gray values are achieved by how near or apart the cuts are made to each other.

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© 2012 Hovak Najarian

Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem & The Entombment | Palm/Passion Sunday B

Mark 11:9/John 12:13 “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem
Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem
Small Passion: 6.
1511
Woodcut
British Museum, London
DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Click image for more information.

Mark 15:47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

The Christ before Pilate
The Entombment
Small Passion: 28.
1511
Woodcut
British Museum, London
DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Click image for more information.

These are but two pages (6 & 28) from the woodcut series The Small Passion (1511) by Albrecht DÜRER
Click to open Web Gallery of Art presentation of the entire Small Passion series of woodcuts.

B Proper 22 Art for October 7, 2012

DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

Job and His Wife
c. 1504
Oil on panel, 94 x 51 cm
Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt
Click to open Web Gallery of Art commentary page. Click image for large view.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Job and His Wife, c. 1504, Oil on Panel, Albrecht Durer, (1471-1528)

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Related post B Proper 22 Art for October 7, 2012

Job was a very righteous man with great herds of livestock and incalculable wealth. Satan suggested, however, that Job’s piety may not be as strong as it seemed if all his worldly possessions were destroyed. Would he not curse God if he were to lose everything? Job was put to the test. His oxen, donkeys, and camels numbering in the thousands were stolen and fire destroyed his 7,000 sheep. A mighty wind from the desert caused his house to collapse and his ten children were killed, but Job remained steadfast. He did not curse God. He shaved his head, tore off his clothes and said “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb and naked shall I return; Lord has given, and Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Next came physical suffering and ridicule from his wife. Friends came to console him but they thought the terrible occurrences were the result of sin. They urged him to confess. God intervened finally and returned Job to good health; his livestock was restored to even greater numbers and he had a new family.

This painting of Job’s suffering was commissioned by Frederick the Wise (Frederick III, Elector of Saxony); a Protestant and a strong supporter of Martin Luther. Memories of sweeping epidemics such as the Bubonic Plague were fearful to him as was a new threat, syphilis. He commissioned several artists to deal with the theme of suffering. Durer’s painting depicts the flames (upper left) that destroyed his servants and sheep, and in the foreground, Job is shown physically overcome and spiritually downcast. The weight of his head is being supported by his arm as he sits overwhelmed and without clothes. His wife (in a typical Nuremberg dress of the early sixteenth century) has no sympathy for him and pours a bucket of water on his neck. Her suggestion was that Job should curse God and die.

Scholars believe Albrecht Durer’s painting, Job and His Wife, was part of a larger panel; possibly a diptych or even a triptych. It also has been suggested this painting is the left side of a larger painting that was cut in half. It is agreed that another panel containing two musicians was part of the original. The fact that the background landscape of both paintings and a portion of Job’s wife’s dress line up with each other when placed side by side support the belief they were once together as one.

In the section that was separated from this scene, two musicians – a flute player and drummer – are standing nearby playing to Job. Music, it was believed, was soothing to sufferers of melancholia in particular and it was prescribed by healers. While studying in Venice, Durer was familiar with street minstrels in colorful clothes and he added them to this painting to provide comfort to Job.

Note

The Book of Job was selected by renowned authors to be listed among the world’s hundred greatest books.

Frederick the Wise was a collector of relics. In his castle church he had over 17,000 purported relics; included in his collection were five pieces of the true cross, parts of the holy cradle, swaddling clothes, a piece of Moses’ burning bush, and even milk from the Virgin Mary.

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© 2012 Hovak Najarian

B Proper 5, Art for June 10, 2012

DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

Life of the Virgin: 16. Christ Taking Leave of his Mother
c. 1505
Woodcut
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna
Click to open Web Gallery of Art commentary page. Click image for large view.

Woodcut series: Life of the Virgin (1511)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art directory for this series.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Christ Taking Leave of His Mother, 1505, Woodcut, Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Related post B Proper 5, Art for June 10, 2012

During the Renaissance, the German artist Albrecht Durer was the most acclaimed printmaker of Northern Europe and his well deserved reputation can be seen in two notable series of woodcuts. Both of them include the theme of Christ saying farewell to his mother before leaving for the events awaiting him during the Passion. The first series called Life of the Virgin was started in 1501 but not completed until after he returned from an extended visit to Italy. A second series called The Small Passion was started after his return to Germany.

In his woodcuts, Durer deals with a wide range of emotional moments; sometimes there are elements of joy, as in Christ Entry into Jerusalem, yet often there are sorrowful events such as the Crucifixion. Durer used Biblical accounts usually for the subject of his woodcuts but many activities in the life of Christ, as well as in his family and disciples, were not recorded in the scriptures. When direct accounts are not available, artists, novelists, and dramatists often turn to their imagination or go to other sources as they try to depict how events might have occurred.

During the thirteenth and early fourteenth century there was much devotional material written but the exact authorship was not always known. Many works that were at one time attributed incorrectly to St. Bonaventura now are called generally, Pseudo-Bonaventura. Durer’s source for Christ Taking Leave of His Mother is from one of the most popular of these works; “Meditations on the Life of Christ.” The thought of Christ’s farewell is emotionally heart wrenching, especially in view of the fate awaiting him in the days that were to come. This subject received much attention from artists in Northern Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and numerous variations of this theme were painted.

In Christ Taking Leave of His Mother (from the Life of the Virgin), Durer lays out the composition in three divisions. Mary is on the left side seated on the edge of a covered porch; her dress is crumpled, her face shows sorrow, and her hands are clasped below her chin. Two women, also with sorrowful expressions, are standing behind her and are part of this group. Christ, near center and a few feet away to the right of them, raises his hand to bless his mother. Two strong vertical elements, the post of the porch and a dead tree suggesting gloom, serve to frame him and at the same time they tend to visually separate him from his mother and the two women. As our attention moves to the right beyond the figure of Jesus we see a third division; open space and a road that will lead Christ to the world beyond. On the road at mid-distance are the disciples waiting for Jesus to join them. In the background, looming over this sorrowful farewell – and possibly intending to suggest the presence and weight of the physical world – is a huge fortress-like cluster of buildings that is based probably on buildings in Nuremberg during Durer’s time.

This woodcut is not quite nine by twelve inches in size; about the size of a standard sheet of notebook paper. Yet Durer filled it with an incredible amount of detail. He presents the primary action in the foreground and then takes us back convincingly into an illusion of very deep space. Durer was a master of black and white values and he skillfully created “gray” tones; even though there are no actual gray tones in this print. The entire surface of the woodblock is of a “yes-no” nature. That is, the surface of the block is either all cut away (to give the white areas) or left uncut (for the dark lines). The various degrees of gray values are achieved by how near or apart the cuts are made to each other.

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian

B Easter 2, Art for April 15, 2012

DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

Small Small Passion: 33. The Incredulity of St Thomas
1511
Woodcut
British Museum, London
Click to open Web Gallery of Art index page. Click selection 33 for large view.

Woodcut series: The Small Passion (1511)
by Albrecht DÜRERClick to open Web Gallery of Art presentation of the entire Small Passion series of woodcuts.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.
.

Palm Sunday, April 1,2012

DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

Small Passion: 6. Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem
1511
Woodcut
British Museum, London
Click to open Web Gallery of Art commentary page. Click selection 6 for large view.

Woodcut series: The Small Passion (1511)
by Albrecht DÜRERClick to open Web Gallery of Art presentation of the entire Small Passion series of woodcuts.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.
.

Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, woodcut (1508-1510), Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)

Commentary by Hovak Najarian
Related post ‘Palm Sunday, April 1,2012’

When Albrecht Durer was a young boy in Nuremberg,Germany his skills were apparent and his father, a goldsmith, took him into his workshop for training.  As a youth, Durer continued his training by apprenticing with a master engraver and then followed by traveling to other European countries.  His first visit to Italy was in the mid 1490s but nine years later he returned in order to immerse himself in creative work.  In Italy, a rebirth had been underway throughout the fifteenth century and during an extended stay in Venice (from 1505-1507) he made a thorough study of not only art but also the intellectual ideas that led to the Renaissance.  In his life, Durer enjoyed a well deserved reputation as a painter but it was through the unrivaled quality of his woodcuts and metal engravings that his reputation as a Northern Renaissance artist spread throughout Europe.

Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem is from a series of woodcuts known as the Small Passion (the prints are quite small in scale).  Durer started the thirty-seven prints not long after his return to Germany from Italy; he completed them in 1510 and then published them as a book in 1511.  The dates of some of the plates (wood blocks) indicate Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem was the first of this series.  In his original concept, the Passion was to be the only subject of the prints but after completing them, he decided to add six more prints beginning with Adam and Eve. This changed the emphasis from the Passion to mankind’s woes and our salvation through Christ.

In Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, Jesus is the central figure and is the focus of attention as He rides toward the gate of the city.  The crowd that surrounds him is in a subordinate role; they are the supporting cast to the drama.  As Christ is approaching the gate, an old man is placing a cloak on the ground before him.  Another man is holding a palm frond.  In ancient Rome, a frond symbolized victory and in Christian art it came to be associated with martyrs and a triumph over death.  The palm tree in the background symbolizes the promise of immortality (because its fronds are always green).

Halos in Christian art are intended to suggest radiant light around the heads of saints and heavenly beings, but they have not always been depicted in the familiar circular form.  Sometimes God the Father is given a triangular halo signifying the trinity.  A living person, such as a donor, may be shown with a square halo to indicate they are not one of the saints.  Christ is the only one given a cruciform halo in reference to his death on the cross.   In “Christ’s Entry,” Durer does not use a circular halo but instead shows Christ’s head surrounded by an intense light with rays extending out beyond the glow.

Note:

Making prints from a raised surface (relief print) is a very ancient graphic process in which an image is drawn on a flat block of wood and then everything but the image itself is carved to be slightly below the surface.  When ink is rolled across a prepared block the carved areas, being below the surface, receive no ink; these areas will remain white on the print.  When a piece of paper is placed over the block and it is run through a press or pressed by hand, the ink is pulled from the surface of the block, transferring a reversed image onto the paper.

Many prints can be made from a prepared plate.  Often an artist plans for a limited edition and destroys the plate after a series has been printed.  Copyright laws were not in place during Durer’s time and many copies of his woodcuts were made.  Some of his plates still exist.

Albrecht Durer signed his plates with a stylized letter “A” and a “D” in the lower space of the “A.”  In “Christ’s Entry,” it is likely you noticed the “D” is reversed.  In most instances, Durer reversed his initials on the plate itself in order that it could be read correctly after the print was pulled.  It may have been one of his assistants who did the carving in Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem.

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© 2012 Hovak Najarian